• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Bono (Himself) Challenges Me to a Debate

On a perfectly pleasant evening at the end of May, my colleague Gavin Martin and I were sitting with most of the E Street Band and a few dozen others in the bar of the Merion Hotel in Dublin after a Springsteen show. It was getting on towards midnight. The room was conversationally loud. I was drinking red wine because I can’t stand Guinness, never mind my last name.

The noise level rose noticeably as another troupe entered. It was U2, in full, and their manager, Paul McGuinness. Gavin and I looked at one another in trepidation. We knew what probably came next and sure enough, ‘round the corner of the couch came a man dressed in a ginger suit with ginger hair, possibly the recent victim of some surgery but nonetheless recognizable as Bono Himself.

Himself did not plop down on the couch—there wasn’t room and both Gavin and I have trained ourselves against obeisance even to godlike celebrities. So Bono leaned over and began to engage us in conversation. He spewed out theories, analyses, opinions and attitudes. All he got back were monosyllables and mumbles. We weren’t talked out, exactly. Maybe kind of dumbfounded, that He was living out such a perfect caricature of himself.

That’s a little unfair because He did eventually ask what we were working on. I don’t remember what Gavin said, because I was busy inventorying what I didn’t want to talk about: Not my book about why American Idol is evil (because I feared the response) and not the one about the civil rights movement (because I didn’t want to lose my temper about that moronic songs that says Martin Luther King did not lose his “pride” when he was assassinated, as if MLK were a preening, pretentious pop star). So I said, “Actually, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about celebrity politics and how ineffective they are.”

I have been. I started at No Nukes (the MUSE concerts) which did succeed, with help from Three Mile Island, in shutting down the U.S. nuclear power industry for 25 years. But after that, I couldn’t think of a problem that actually gained a solution from celebrity involvement: AIDS is a bigger crisis than ever, hunger is rampant precisely where hunger was rampant at the time of Live Aid, nuclear power is making a comeback in the States, and celebrity endorsements failed to elect the last several Presidents. (Which is one reason the McCain-Palin complaint that Obama is nothing but a celebrity is preposterous—they wish.)

Then again, my thinking wasn’t so sharp that night. Bono seized my statement and, with a look of determination, declared: “I think I know something about that. And you’re dead wrong.” I said, well, not as far as I could see. He said, “No. It does work…I think we should have a debate about this, Dave. A public debate.”

I responded that I had a satellite radio show called Kick Out the Jams, two hours every Sunday, and we could do that debate any week he’d like. He said that sounded good to Him, I said I’d put the folks at Sirius to work on it that very night. We parted soon after. A weird story, I thought, but put in a call to Sirius just in case.

He had plenty of wiggle room, Gavin being my only witness. But the next night, Bono told my wife, “Tell Dave not to forget about our debate.” Paul McGuinness was standing right next to them, too.

U2’s New York office took a couple weeks to get back and then said that the debate would happen, after the band completed recording its new album. (The release date has now been pushed back to January.)

I figure, if it does happen, I can’t exactly win—celebrity counts for something, after all—even with the facts on my side. I also think it’ll be fun, and some additional listeners (and readers—RRC will of course provide a transcript) will get the point. Which is empowerment of those who are not celebrated, who are in fact the wretched of this Earth. Those people have voices, too, and the solution to many of these problems is to hear them, speaking for themselves, not through a bullhorn controlled by Bono and Bob Geldof into the ears of politicians who are deaf as a matter of principle.

And if it doesn’t happen, believe you me, I’ll have even more fun. I’m thinking that, now that the record is due in January, the time to begin the count for Kick Out the Jams Held Hostage is probably March 1—it’s not only a Sunday next year, it’s also my birthday.

Of course, I’d rather present the debate…

DAVE MARSH (along with Lee Ballinger) edits Rock & Rap Confidential, one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, now available for free by emailing: rockrap@aol.com. Marsh’s definitive and monumental biography of Bruce Springsteen has just been reissued, with 12,000 new words, under the title Two Hearts. Marsh can be reached at: marsh6@optonline.net

This article originally appeared in Rock & Rap Confidential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Marsh edits Rock & Rap Confidential, one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, now available for free by emailing: rockrap@aol.com. Dave blogs at http://davemarsh.us/

May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus
Barrie Gilbert
The Mismanagement of Wildlife in Utah Continues to be Irrational and a National Embarrassment.
Dean Baker
The Sure Way to End Concerns About China’s “Theft” of a Vaccine: Make it Open
Thom Hartmann
The Next Death Wave from Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White
Phil Knight
Killer Impact
Paul Cantor
Memorial Day 2020 and the Coronavirus
Laura Flanders
A Memorial Day For Lies?
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Grizzlies, Lynx, Bull Trout and Elk on the Chopping Block for Trump’s Idaho Clearcuts
Cesar Chelala
Challenges of the Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic
Luciana Tellez-Chavez
This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
George Wuerthner
Saving the Lionhead Wilderness
Elliot Sperber
Holy Beaver
Weekend Edition
May 22, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Hugh Iglarsh
Aiming Missiles at Viruses: a Plea for Sanity in a Time of Plague
Paul Street
How Obama Could Find Some Redemption
Marc Levy
On Meeting Bao Ninh: “These Good Men Meant as Much to Me as Yours Did to You”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Shallò: 120 Days of COVID
Joan Roelofs
Greening the Old New Deal
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Still Matters
Charles Pierson
Is the US-Saudi Alliance Headed Off a Cliff?
Robert Hunziker
10C Above Baseline
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
The Fed’s Chair and Vice Chair Got Rich at Carlyle Group, a Private Equity Fund With a String of Bankruptcies and Job Losses
Eve Ottenberg
Factory Farming on Hold
Andrew Levine
If Nancy Pelosi Is So Great, How Come Donald Trump Still Isn’t Dead in the Water?
Ishmael Reed
Alex Azar Knows About Diabetes
Joseph Natoli
Will Things Fall Apart Now or in November?
Richard D. Wolff
An Old Story Again: Capitalism vs. Health and Safety
Louis Proyect
What Stanford University and Fox News Have in Common
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail